Is Mike’s Hard Lemonade Gluten Free? Or Better Yet, is it Safe for those with celiac disease?

mike's hard lemonade contains gluten

This one falls into the “why the hell can’t we just get a straight answer?” category.

Last week, it was announced that “Mike’s Hard is the first malt liquor to go [almost] gluten-free.” And according to the article, now it’s the first malt beverage to use “crafted to remove gluten” on its label — with permission from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates alcoholic beverages in the U.S.

This label will go on ALL of their products.

So the question is…what does it mean? Is Mike’s Hard Lemonade safe for those with celiac disease?

To get an answer, my first visit was to their website.

Here are some blurbs taken directly from their site, with my obligatory reaction to each:

“We created a proprietary and unique filtration process to make the purest, cleanest tasting malt beverage base giving all of our products a clean, natural taste. What we learned, as a by-product of this rigorous filtration process, was that this process naturally removes gluten.”

Dude note: Why do all of these companies use a “proprietary” process to remove gluten? Maybe because there is no standard process? And although that comes off as snarky sarcasm, I seriously am curious.

“At mike’s, we are committed to ensuring every batch meets our team’s high standards for quality and taste. Each is tested by an independent agency using the R5 Competitive ELISA test.”

Dude note: Cool…than it’s gluten-free.

“Mike’s is fermented from grains that contain gluten and crafted to remove gluten. The gluten content cannot be verified and this product may contain gluten.”

Dude note: Yeah…but you just said each batch is tested. Now it can’t be verified??

So the wonderful Jules Shephard and I had a little Twitter conversation about it and included Mike’s in on the conversation. And before I knew it, I received an email from Mike’s PR team. Kudos to them for reaching out to both Jules and I directly.

They offered to answer the following questions:

What does the “Crafted to Remove Gluten” seal mean for consumers – especially those with a gluten sensitivity/allergy or Celiac disease?

The “Crafted to Remove Gluten” labeling designation allows mike’s to provide consumers with more information at the shelf to make the choice that’s right for them. We’re now able to offer consumers the freedom of choice. While there were a few beers out there for those with gluten sensitivities, there previously weren’t any options in the flavored malt beverage category other than cider.

For those with a gluten allergy/sensitivity or Celiac disease, the severity of each case is unique to that specific individual. mike’s recommends that Individuals who suffer from a gluten allergy/sensitivity or Celiac disease consult with his or her doctor prior to consuming mike’s products.

Dude note: I don’t think most doctors would have the slightest idea what to say.

What is the labeling difference between “gluten-free” vs. “Crafted to Remove Gluten?”

Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co. is dedicated to crafting the best-tasting hard lemonades, and from the very first batch in 1999 the company has used a proprietary and unique filtration process to create the superior neutral malt base and clean, natural taste for which mike’s products are known. This proprietary process is not used by any other fermented malt beverage in the industry, and as a by-product of the rigorous filtration process, gluten is naturally removed.

The “Crafted to Remove Gluten” seal was specially developed with permission from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TBB), which oversees gluten labeling for alcoholic beverages in the U.S., to communicate this status on the packaging of all mike’s products, including mike’s LITE hard lemonade and mike’s Hard Smashed Apple Ale.

This seal is the first of its kind for fermented malt beverages having a gluten-containing grain (in mike’s case, barley) and follows a ruling by the TTB that while a gluten-free claim may not be made, mike’s can note when a product is crafted to remove gluten as long as a disclaimer is provided stating that the products may contain trace amounts of gluten.

mike’s products are tested by an independent agency to confirm gluten has been removed to less than 5 parts per million, as measured by the R5 Competitive ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) test. The test revealed that mike’s beverages have just 5 ppm of gluten – for comparison, according to the FDA foods that are less than 20 ppm may be designated as gluten-free.

So, while mike’s products are crafted to remove gluten, the company cannot say they are 100% gluten free. Because mike’s is an alcohol product vs. food, labeling is dictated by the TTB – not the FDA which governs the gluten-free labeling process in food. As a result, we’re not eligible for a gluten-free label because it doesn’t exist in the alcohol space.

The TTB recently ruled that fermented products made from gluten-containing grains cannot make a gluten-free claim, but are allowed to make a claim that a product is crafted to remove gluten with a disclaimer that there may be traces of gluten as the gluten content cannot be verified.

At the moment, the testing methodologies available to measure gluten for non-fermented food products are accepted by the FDA, but these testing methodologies are not accepted for fermented or hydrolyzed products and have not yet been shown to be valid to quantify the gluten content in fermented and hydrolyzed products.

Dude note: Wow…that was one long answer. Basically what they’re saying is if they were food, they could be called gluten free? But since they’re alcohol, they cannot. I think.

How does mike’s hard lemonade remove gluten from its products and creates a superior neutral malt base and clean, natural taste?

mike’s uses a rigorous filtration process to create a superior, neutral malt base – and as a byproduct, naturally removes gluten. This proprietary process is not used by any other fermented malt beverage in the industry, and as a by-product of the rigorous filtration process, gluten is naturally removed.

mike’s gluten removal process does NOT change the taste of our products. mike’s customers are receiving the exact same great tasting and refreshing product as always, but thanks to a new ruling by the TTB we’re now able to call out this benefit of our filtration process.

Dude note: Dang, there’s that “proprietary” word again.

How are mike’s hard lemonade products different from other alcoholic beverages that claim to be “gluten-free?”

Some gluten free beers are made with non-wheat or ingredients, like sorghum. These beers are considered gluten-free as they are made with non-gluten containing grains. Since mike’s products are made with other grains, barley to be exact, mike’s is able to designate gluten content with the Crafted to Remove Gluten seal.

Omission Beer is an example of a beer that is crafted to remove gluten; however, its process varies from the one utilized by mike’s. Whereas mike’s uses a rigorous filtration process to create a superior, neutral malt base – and as a byproduct, naturally removes gluten – Omission is brewed just like other craft beers, with malted barley, hops, water, and yeast. Once the beers are ready for the fermentation tanks, Omission ADDS a brewing enzyme called Brewers Clarex™ which breaks apart and detoxifies the gluten protein chains.

Dude note: Separating yourselves from the Omission folks…very smart.

“The gluten content cannot be verified and products may contain gluten.” If every batch is tested below 5ppm, why this statement?

mike’s products are tested by an independent agency to confirm gluten has been removed to less than 5 parts per million, as measured by the R5 Competitive ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) test. The test revealed that mike’s beverages have just 5 ppm of gluten – for comparison, according to the FDA foods that are less than 20 ppm may be designated as gluten-free.

At the moment, the testing methodologies available to measure gluten for non-fermented food products are accepted by the FDA, but these testing methodologies are not accepted for fermented or hydrolyzed products and have not yet been shown to be valid to quantify the gluten content in fermented and hydrolyzed products.

mike’s “Crafted to Remove Gluten” seal follows the ruling by the TTB that while a gluten-free claim may not be made, mike’s can note when a product is crafted to remove gluten as long as a disclaimer is provided stating that products may contain trace amounts of gluten, hence the statement – “The gluten content cannot be verified and products may contain gluten.”

Dude note: Hmmm…the testing methods have not yet shown to be valid to quantify the gluten content. I’ll let that one fester in my brain for a bit.

Does mike’s use Brewer’s Clarex™?

No, mike’s hard lemonade does not use Brewer’s Clarex™. As mentioned, the company uses a proprietary and unique filtration process to create the superior neutral malt base and clean, natural taste for which mike’s products are known. This proprietary process is not used by any other fermented malt beverage in the industry, and as a by-product of the rigorous filtration process, gluten is naturally removed.

So, 1,605 words later…I ask again? Is Mike’s Hard Lemonade safe for celiacs.

Answer: I have absolutely no idea. It sounds like it most likely sorta kinda is but they have to include a lot of CYA statements (which I get).

Will I be drinking it? I will not.

Should you? I can’t answer that. You tell me…what’s that little voice in your head telling you? There’s your answer.

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70 thoughts on “Is Mike’s Hard Lemonade Gluten Free? Or Better Yet, is it Safe for those with celiac disease?”

  1. I uh… I dunno. I want to drink it, it was one of my favorites during my pre-diagnosis days. But… But…

    For example – I know Wichita Falls Texas is starting to make drinking water from the sewer water, due to drought.

    Sounds nasty, but with the right filtration and approval they must be getting all the “crap” out to make it safe right?

    Mikes might be getting all the “cra-um… gluten out, but there still is a mental block for me – the thought I would actually be drinking the crap-water. (And what happens in the filtering process, is it possible a turd might ever slip by? I mean no one whether they are celiac or not should EVER drink a turd. And what happens with the city water if someone ate and left a poorly digested whole wheat sandwich? Oh man, my brain is running away)

    I think it is entirely feasible and kudos to mikes for filtering out the gluten, for now I’ll probably stick to my “clean” bottle wate-I mean hard cider.

    Someday, maybe if we are in a drought and if the clean water is in short supply, I might just try the filtered poo water if it’s an emergency, but you can bet I’ll be going for the clean again as soon as feasible.

    1. Today I noticed this very fine print on the MHL case that I had never identified before. I have wanted to try this beverage ever since I became aware of my sensitivity therefore I was enthusiastic about the potential of this label’s legitimacy. I coincidentally happened to stumble upon this article, and after finishing a bottle I felt obligated to provide my opinion and reaction.

      I’m sure that I don’t need to mention that every individual case of celiac/gluten-intolerance and the level of severity of their symptoms is subjective. That being said I personally would not recommend consuming this beverage if you believe you have celiac or gluten intolerance. However, I feel compelled to mention the symptoms were substantially less sever in comparison to those I experience when consuming gluten containing products. I’m also sure I don’t need to mention the symptoms as we’ve all had enough of them.

      I became consciously aware of my “sensitivity” approximately three years ago, prior to that I was unfamiliar with the diagnosis and therefore was unsure what to attribute my symptoms to. For the purposes of this post I use the term sensitivity given that my symptoms had become so sever that I felt no need to verify whether or not I was merely a gluten-sensitive or if I had celiac. I knew regardless I had to abstain from consuming gluten.

      P.s. – this website is phenomenal!!!!!

  2. As a person who has only a mild case of Celiac a Disease. YES I will be having some Mike’s lemonade. We CELIACS and Gluten Sensitive people must support Gluten Free products when they come out. I was tested positive for Celiac Disease, but I never really got sick even when I digest Gluten by mistake. You have to remember that the World War 2 study involving Dr Dicke http://www.celiac.com/articles/22013/1/Willem-Karel-Dicke-Pioneer-in-Gluten-free-Diet-in-the-Treatment-of-Celiac-Disease/Page1.html never said anything about Cross Contamination in Dicke’s Gluten Free for Celiac’s experiment. Look I never cheat on my Gluten Free diet for my Celiac, but come now Dude, when Gluten Free products come to are shelves, we should at least try them to see if we have any reaction. I plan on buying at least 4 cases of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. I hope the people reading this blog will be supporting Gluten Free and buy some Mike’s hard lemonade.

    1. Oh wow Hammer, you have a mild case of celiac? Is that the same thing as a mild case of pregnancy? Must be nice. Enjoy your 96 bottles of mikes… 🙂
      You bet I support new gluten free products! Just not the “kinda, sorta, maybe, we think, if you’re having a lucky day” gluten free products.

      1. Good lad. I like some Mike’s when i’m stateside. I’m also a mild sufferer, or maybe i’m just hard like Mike.

    2. pippy longstocking

      I have to agree with Brittney when she said, “Is that the same thing as a mild case of pregnancy? If you ignore the disease, it WILL bite you in the butt some day (pun intended). My advice is to stay as gfree as you can, and don’t take risks, but I am not your keeper. As much as I want to get angry at you, it is still your choice. If you continue on this road, it will no longer be mild, and it will hit with a vengeance.
      Good health to you,
      Pip

  3. As if all of this weren’t complicated enough, here in Canada MHL is made with vodka instead of malt liquor. Their wikipedia page says:

    “[The] original mike’s hard lemonade, first introduced in Canada in 1996, [is] a mix of vodka, natural flavors and carbonated water. Mike’s entered the U.S. market on April Fool’s, 1999, changing the beverage to a mixture of lemonade flavor and a premium unflavored malt liquor base, due to differing tax and beverage laws.”

    So any celiac in Canada who was travelling south of the border and didn’t know any better would think MHL is fine, but they could be in for a surprise.

    I don’t what these legal differences are. Maybe something about the Cdn formulation is flat-out illegal in the USA for some reason. That’s not entirely impossible. For example, I think the laws have changed now, but at one time here not that long ago, caffeine was definitely an illegal ingredient for non-cola soft drinks (e.g. Mountain Dew).

    Or somehow the laws might simply not mesh with their business model and they couldn’t make a go of it if they had to use vodka.

    BTW, for USA folks who might be travelling to Canada, be advised that up here we make NO distinction between beers that are gluten-free and those that are gluten-removed. They all get to call themselves GF as long as they satisfy the same laws that govern foods (basically under 20 ppm). So I don’t recommend buying any GF beer in Canada without researching to your satisfaction that it’s not merely GR but indeed truly GF.

    1. KRISTEN BROLINSKI

      As I live in Niagara Falls (USA) and on the border- THANK YOU!!! THAT LAST PARAGRAPH WAS BOMB- that information may end up saving my son’s life! Thanks for letting us know that they are not distinguished “North of the Border”.

      My question then: if Mike’s is made with Vodka in Canada (and I make sure what I purchase was bottled in Canada)- then it is gluten FREE? Also, you mention Hard Lemonade- only that one, or ALL flavors?

      THANK YOU AGAIN!

      1. Hi Kristen,

        Thanks for the reply. Good question.

        I had a look at MHL’s Canadian website (.ca domain) and they had a pdf FAQ which states the following:

        —————–

        “(Q:) Are your products gluten-free?

        “(A:) Mike’s Hard Lemonade products available in Canada are vodka distilled spirit based (gluten free) beverages.

        “Mike’s products available in the US are lemon clear malt based (fermented barley beer malt) beverages. Highly sensitive tests from an independent lab analysis indicate that Mike’s products do not contain any traces of gluten protein (including hordein). Our malt is fermented and it is then further processed using a highly technical and proprietary, multi stage filtration process.

        “Our products in Canada and U.S. are bottled in multiple sites that may produce other malt beverages; we cannot completely guarantee the absence of gluten from other beverages produced in the same bottling facilities. Please consult with your doctor if you are extremely sensitive so the best decision can be made for you.”

        —————–

        So like GD said in his OP above, it sounds like there’s a lot of CYA going on.

        On one hand they say even the USA formulation is okay because testing indicates no detectable presence of gluten.

        But then on the other they say both the Cdn and US formulations are in some cases bottled in shared facilities and that this may lead to some cross-contamination in such batches.

        TBH I was unaware of this happenstance until I looked into it just now. So maybe even the Canadian formulation, which is made without gluten-containing ingredients could be getting sufficient CC to make it unsuitable for some people, in any variety.

        The product itself is probably fine at the outset. But it sounds like the plumbing involved in getting it from tanks/vats/whatever into the bottles is where there is some risk that creeps in.

  4. My daughter was diagnosed with celiac a year ago, and we are still learning. But, from my understanding, there is no such thing as a mild case of celiac. Either you have it, or you don’t. There may be mild symptoms, however. My daughter’s friend who has celiac has never had any obvious symptoms except that she wasn’t growing. So, be careful, because the cross contamination could still be damaging your body. My daughter is too young for Mike’s, but I wouldn’t let her consume anything made with barley. Not worth it.

    1. Well said Katie. That is also my understanding – one cannot be ‘a little’ celiac or have a mild case. One either has it or does not; the issue is how and the degree to which symptoms manifest. Damage is still being done internally if gluten is ingested. Not worth the risk in my view.

  5. GD, you ask if it’s safe or not. I think they answered that when the said:

    “At the moment, the testing methodologies available to measure gluten for non-fermented food products are accepted by the FDA, but these testing methodologies are not accepted for fermented or hydrolyzed products and have not yet been shown to be valid to quantify the gluten content in fermented and hydrolyzed products.”

    In other words, we test with a technique which may or not give meaningful results, so we really don’t know whether it’s safe for celiacs or not. But we think we got most of the gluten out.

    I’ll stick to wine.

    Dick

  6. Hammer’s comment above concerns me. For a Celiac to say “just try it and see if you have a reaction” means this person doesn’t realize the damage being done within the body even when we might not notice a reaction.

    While it sounds like it would be a good tasting product, I will not be trying Mike’s as any possibility of a reaction is not an acceptable option for me. I even opened my own gluten free bakery and cafe so that I can still be productive in my field and be free from any crumb that might enter my bubble. (I had to sadly give up my previous “almost-gluten free” cafe because of cross-contamination in my own kitchen.)

    I now enjoy the hugs and compliments from our patrons over our amazing gf breads and goodies – people, like me, who cannot tolerate even a crumb of gluten. Because my kitchen is dedicated GF, they know they are safe to enjoy anything on the menu. THIS is what we need more of, NOT “removing gluten” from a food source. Let’s just be gluten free from the beginning!

    Thanks for the info, Gluten Dude. I love your “Is This Gluten Free” page. Keep reviewing!

    1. Agreed Cathy. It’s not worth the recovery time involved or the damage done just to try a new product.

      I do appreciate their explanation though – lengthy as it was. And at the end of the day, it really is up to us how strictly we choose to follow the diet. It’s like smoking – everybody knows it’s bad for you but many continue to do it anyway. Of course, at one time cigarettes were actually promoted as healthy. It seems like a lot of the gluten free foods out there are marketed the same way. Some celiacs will continue to consume products like this regardless of the health consequences. The ones that worry me are the newbies who might not know any better.

  7. Here’s my recipe

    squeeze some lemon into glass
    add 1 shot Tito’s vodka
    add 1 sachet Equal
    water or soda water
    ice

    I consider it safe for myself and the gluten avoiding dieter, fancy pants community. I cannot verify my claim with the FDA; they’re busy with more important stuff.

  8. Back in 2012, packages of Mike’s Lite Hard Lemonade were labeled “Gluten Free” and I was a bit skeptical when I saw this and sent them an email about it. I searched through my emails just now and still have it! (June 2012)
    They responded back to me (it was also a very long email) but they basically said, “Yup! All our products are gluten free! They all test under 5ppm, but please check with your doctor first..”
    I did have one and I was ok but I didn’t over do it, then next time I went to the liquor store, the packages didn’t say Gluten Free on them anymore.. so I haven’t had any since because it freaked me out that they did that.
    So that’s my story! Not sure what to think anymore! 😛

  9. Before my diagnosis of Celiac I had a Mikes one hot summer day on the boat. I had a very bad reaction. I stopped drinking it that day. At the time I didn’t know why this was happening. Then my diagnosis and I learned the work ‘malt’ = gluten.
    Will I try it to see if I have a reaction? Hell no.
    I’ve learned to live without. Tanqueray and homemade lemonade is pretty damn fine for a hot summer afternoon. As are my T & T’s.
    Sorry Mike’s, no way I am going backwards, feeling too damn good for the first time in 40 years!!

  10. Even stranger is the idea that it apparently takes 96 beers (4 cases) to figure out there is an issue!! My vote, the intern at mikes was told to “watch this unfold & report any issues” decided to put in their 2 cents…however misinformed they may be.

    Mikes is ok tasting, better than nothing in some cases…BUT the poo water analogy is now stuck in my head I’m a celiac, not “a little kinda maybe celiac”. Not that hard cider is beer in my mind, but like chex cereal that one batch where levels of barley malt are high will make me regret the “maybe” impulse for a week or more. Not worth it. Zima would also have the same issue.

    ELISA testing as far as my research isn’t designed for alcoholic beverages, just foods. Thus the CYA message about “we test, BUT”. When they test using “the gold standard” that’s not actually designed for liquids (as opposed to bread ground up with liquid added) is used its mathmatically possible to have a false negative result making lawyers get creative.

  11. Ummmmm…no thank you! Anytime someone has offered the advice: “try it and see how you feel” I just want to scream. Why would I purposefully ingest something that could make me sick? This is my body, my temple and my life. It is not an experiment. Plus, Tito’s, wine and cider do the trick. Thanks but no thanks Mike’s!

    As a side note, this whole ‘proprietary’ process that they won’t describe in detail sounds creepy to me. Did that bother anyone else? Even if I were the adventurous celiac I think their language would have steered me away.

  12. It’s not my obligation to support “all” gluten-free products that come out. I decided that when I bought a box of GF shortbread cookies and they tasted fishy. Checked the ingredients…they added a bunch of OMEGA 3!! Why…Why would you do this to someone who just wants to eat shortbread cookies. Just..so cruel. Why.

    Anyway, lots of GF products are bunk. I make my own baked goods. It tastes better. No fish added.

  13. In the US, alcoholic beverage laws are a tremendous mish-mash. There are laws at the federal level, but also at the state and sometimes local levels, too. Years ago I lived in New York state, and at that time (maybe still) grocery stores could sell beer, but not distilled spirits or wine. For those, you had to go to a liquor store, which couldn’t sell beer. So in a place with laws like that, Mikes would have a much larger market if it has a beer-type base and not a vodka base.

    In some places restaurants can get a “beer, wine, and cider” license or, for more money, a full alcohol license. Obvious advantage there.

    1. Thanks for the clarification Dick L.; it looks like my second hunch was right. In most of Canada alcoholic beverages can only be sold in government-owned liquor stores, not in grocery stores — except for a couple of jurisdictions where they allow an exception for beer and beer only. Even with a malt base I don’t think these places would be allowed to sell MHL, so there’s no mercantile advantage to be had in following the American formulation on my side of the border.

    2. KRISTEN BROLINSKI

      FYI- These laws are still in place in New York. I skip the grocery stores (beer, wine coolers and “Mike’s”) and head straight to the liquor store! That’s where wine is sold (although my family doesn’t like wine) and all those great “hard” liquors!

  14. Oh…just bring on the vodka! And the wine…tequila….lots of choices so I think I’m good without Mike and his questionable beverages. I am home sick today because something (I still do not know what) made me sick yesterday. If I feel this bad from a little mysterious cross contamination, why on earth would I be willing to risk some ‘maybe it is, maybe it isn’t’ safe beverage? And consult with my doctor? Ha! I educate my family doctor about Celiac disease, not the other way around, but at least she admits she has been learning right along with me. I had to go four hours away to find a Celiac specialist and I know without asking what he would say- I think I can hear him yelling now-something along the lines of “Are you crazy, why would you risk your health?” As you always say Dude…it’s only food ( or in this case drink!).

  15. I have no idea why the formulations of Mikes in Canada and the USA are different. I do know that I noticed the difference before diagnosis in 2008. This is one case where I am glad I am in Canada.
    I am not a fan of malt beverages – cider, beer, etc. so coolers are my only bottled option when I want a “cold one.”
    I have been a loyal Canadian Mikes’ fan for years, and unless they change it to malt, I will continue to be. When I cross the border my beverage choice becomes cocktails.
    Will I ever try it? Well, I can’t say never, but I am very doubtful.

    I would also like to add there there is absolutely no “mild” case of Celiac. Your symptoms when glutened may be mild or silent, but Celiac is Celiac. You are never “sorta pregnant” you are or your aren’t. Same goes for Celiac.

    And yes, it matters. Because we are all ambassadors for Celiac Disease and Awareness. Weather we like it or not.
    Spreading false ideas or information harms the rest of us.

  16. I think its pretty clear – what they’re saying is that they test the MHL and its fine, but that the tests don’t have a proven validity for booze, so they can’t be sure and want people to be safe.

    It’s not something that I drink very often (I just don’t drink that much anymore – see your past column ‘Does Celiac Reduce Your Tolerance” LOL) but its not a bad thing to have something in the back pocket that’s okay for the event that doesn’t have soda, other liquors, bottled water, or cider (of which I’ve been to several).

  17. Sounds like a proprietary, convoluted, mumbo-jumbo exercise in jargon-filled word games.

    Dude to Mike’s: Repeat after me. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    Mike’s: Homo sapiens who inhabit crytalized domiciles shouldn’t throw geological figures.

  18. They test using a test that hasn’t been validated to get a result that can’t be validated to get a label that is convoluted. I conclude the following: 1) drink Mike’s only in Canada; 2) wait until there is a gluten-measurement test proven valid for fermented or hydrolyzed products.

    As for no-symptoms-mean-that-I’m-fine, that’s a dangerous rule of thumb. Celiac=no gluten. Period. Ever. Symptoms or not. Your small intestine may not tell you directly, but it’s not happy with any gluten. I get occasionally cheating because the benefit of the taste, etc may outweigh the cost of the symptoms and intestinal damage, but I can’t pretend that the cost=0.

  19. No way. I don’t drink alcohol at all, but if I did I would not drink this. Lots of legalese designed to cover themselves, and not a lot of transparency about their ‘proprietary’ process. I personally don’t go for the whole removal of gluten thing at all in any product. Not worth the risk. There are plenty of naturally truly GF products out there, I don’t *need* to have something engineered like this, especially when the damage and consequences are so high.

  20. Hello Glutendude,

    I am brand new to the world of forbidden gluten as I was just diagnosed 8 days ago (for some bizarre reason I find myself counting the days…when does that stop?) I’m learning to accept the fact that I now have to carefully scrutinize not just every food I eat, but every ingredient of every food I eat. I got sick yesterday when I thought I was being so careful because one vitamin pill I took had wheat in it! Before I comment on the above post, I want to say thank you to you for your efforts to educate people about Celiac and that I am already finding comfort from the resources such as your website to navigate an illness that doctors don’t even seem to understand.

    With that said, I found this post especially timely since I am trying to extract the same information from Smirnoff regarding their flavored vodkas. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information online and I have emailed the company directly to get a definitive response (since Friday is fast approaching and I don’t want to add “glutening myself” to the list of things I may regret doing that night!). They don’t seem to even know themselves which products have gluten.

    As I mentioned, I am a brand new baby in this gluten-free world but something that seems clear to me is that there is no “spectrum of tolerance” for this disease. Is this not true? I liken it to a severe peanut allergy, you can’t have just a little. I may not go into anaphylactic shock and die instantly, but it is most certainly a slow poisoning. My impression is that what this company is doing is going to help fuel the misunderstanding in the general public that minute amounts of gluten are safe, undermining the critical health implications of this. I would ask them…why bother putting any label on your products at all if you are going to allow some level of gluten? Why do they need to make any claims about gluten at all? I realize that the FDA allows for up to 20 ppm in gluten-free food products, but now it seems that even higher levels are acceptable in alcohol. For a true Celiac, there is no such thing as a safe level of gluten. This does a disservice to all of us by trivializing this illness. This reminds me of your post about Dean McDermitt who claims he has “mild” Celiac!

    As for me, I’m frankly devastated at the prospect of parting ways with Starbucks (ironic that they finally built one within walking distance of my house!) and there’s a good chance that they’ll feel the loss of my business, although my husband thinks we are going to save money (he hasn’t shopped the gluten-free food aisle yet!) As I learn more about the nature of this disease, I will stand with those who aim to educate others and I’m grateful for people like you who are doing that so well.

    1. Disclaimer: I have no official or formal relationship to the website– I’m another diagnosed (9/11/2013) celiac who has found this website valuable and interesting.

      That said, welcome to the club. I’d rather you didn’t have the disease, but fates be, you’re here now.

      Counting the days stops when you start counting weeks instead, then months, and, presumably eventually years. I’m 13 months and counting. It’s not a 12-step program, but sometimes it feels a little bit like it.

      As far as getting a straight answer from Smirnoff, I’d say “good luck”. It may go something like “I’d like a straight answer”… “I understand, let me talk to our lawyers and maybe get back to you”. Or something like that. (I really don’t think there is a straight answer if there’s any question– as the folks from Mike’s said, although not in so many words– we have no established way to test for gluten in alcoholic beverages, so we really can’t say for sure.)

      ” I would ask them…why bother putting any label on your products at all if you are going to allow some level of gluten?” I think you really know the answer to that– to sell more product. In one sense that’s okay– they have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to make money and maintain the corporation as a viable entity. But from our standpoint as celiacs, it’s not okay.

      As far as a little bit of gluten being okay, there is a frequently cited study (mentioned somewhere above, I believe) that seems to indicate that 50 micrograms per day results in villous atrophy, but 10 micrograms per day does not (or maybe it’s that it does not for most celiacs– I’m not clear on that). That seems reasonable– there’s probably some lower limit. IMO it probably varies by person. It probably also varies by the number of days in a row that one consumes the amount in question. I think lots of research remains to be done in this area.

      “As I learn more about the nature of this disease, I will stand with those who aim to educate others….” Good. We always need more people with that attitude. It sounds like you will be a positive influence around here.

      Dick

      1. Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Dick. I think you are right that there is a great need for more research about this. My hope is that as awareness grows, more folks on the medical front lines will look for this in their patients, especially since testing is relatively simple. I had to ask for it from a GI doc even though I had very obvious signs and symptoms (and that was after going in to see my GP three times this year). I suspect I’ve had this for the better part of my life, but I’m extremely grateful that I didn’t get a diagnosis of colon cancer because I let it go too long. I got a wake up call and I’m answering it whole-heartedly!

      2. So, Brown-Forman has an awesome page that provides some more options for you: http://www.jackdaniels.com/faqs

        FYI- Brown-Forman sells more than Jack Daniels, including Finlandia Vodkas, Southern Comfort, Tennessee Honey, Woodford Reserve, etc. The R&D team there is very specific about watching for allergens.

        I can provide more details and links offline to the Gluten Dude and he can see if they’re valuable enough to show on his site.

  21. I can say that I’ve had Mike’s, and afterward felt no different than after consuming any other TRULY gluten free beverage. But that leads me to a question I’ve had for a while. Before my diagnosis, I hadn’t had any alcohol in over a year. But I’d never had a problem with it, I was one of those people that could drink as much as I wanted of whatever I wanted and never got a hangover. But since being diagnosed, I now get diarrhea EVERY time I have alcohol. It doesn’t matter if it’s wine, vodka, tequila, cider, or gluten free beer. It doesn’t matter if I have one drink or 10. I always get a short (but terrible) bout of diarrhea the next day. I also get hangovers after just a few drinks. Is this a Celiac thing? It doesn’t seem like it would be related but I’m curious because it started after I knew I had Celiac. Maybe my system is just hypersensitive now because of CD? Can anyone shed some light on this? I apologize if this is addressed somewhere else in this expansive and awesome blog, I just haven’t been able to read every single post yet 🙂

    1. Rachel, could it be sulfites? The last time I had a Mikes’s (about 2 years ago), I had a severe headache immediately after. I only now drink our own wine which don’t have any “added” sulfites because we drink it fairly quickly :). I have only a small glass and try to stay away from commercial wine.

  22. I got invited to Mike’s “#mhlglutenchat” last night on Twitter. I didn’t participate because I was like, “What the…?”

    Basically, my “What the…?” thoughts were summed up in your post here. I’m not trying to teeter on the gluten line. The only risk I want to take when enjoying an adult beverage is a headache the next day if I go overboard.

  23. You are either celiac or not there are different stages and levels when my daughter was diagnosed she was already a stage 6 which is the highest stage and we never would have known without her bad reaction. She has no Villi left in her intestines so those of you in early stages even if it does not bother you now it will later. She cannot absorb any nutrients and vitamins anymore due to this. Which causes other issues so those of you in stage one or two if you keep eating the things that are not labeled gluten free you will regret it in the long run. But someone who says kinda sorta maybe .. then not. And items that say may contain traces don’t eat it or drink it you are just making your insides worse.

    1. KRISTEN BROLINSKI

      I would like to add the same warning- Although my son was “sick” since about the age of four (with MANY hospital visits for “appendicitis”) it wasn’t until my 15 year old child WENT INTO CONVULSIONS, HIS EYES ROLLED BACK IN HIS HEAD AND HE “DIED” IN MY ARMS, did we start learning! THANKFULLY I WAS WITH HIM AND WAS ABLE TO SAVE HIS LIFE!! (As short a backstory as possible- constantly ill with “stomache aches”, migraines (out of school constantly), rash, and little growth – size 12 slim in High School. Yes- we say “DUH! now, and wherethehell was the doctors’ brains????? We were always told “He’s just constipated, he’ll feel better after he passes the waste”. REALLY??) Final answer- When I freaked out about his death, I was promised answers this time. Here’s my answer- Well ma’am, other than his Celiac’s, we can’t figure out what is wrong with him. WHAT CELIACS?? Needless to say so much happened then and since, and my now 19 year old has changed…he gained 32 pounds and grew 7″ the first year! He has decided that “cheating”, even for the love of pizza, IS NOT WORTH IT!!
      We found out that he died from severe malnutrition due to his inability to absorb any nutrients from the foods he ate. This coupled with the shot of SUMAVEL DOSE-PRO (An Epi-Pen type of shot to relieve the migraine) which he turned out to be allergic to, caused too much gluten, not enough nutrition.
      PROOF THAT THINGS DO GET WORSE IF YOU DON’T STAY ENTIRELY GLUTEN FREE!

  24. I have tried Mike’s light several times with no problem. However today I drank Mikes Harder Lemonade as they come in cans (at beach). Having major gluten reaction: stomach and rash. Will make my own vodka /lemonade and put them in plastic water bottles next time – being celiac sick on vacation is the worst!

  25. I just had to weigh in on the “proprietary” stuff. I totally get where they are coming from. I work in a manufacturing business and when I create a process to manufacture a part for a customer, the last thing I want to give the customer, or anyone else, what the exact process is that I use. I spent my time and education to develop that process. Why give them that information when they could take it and go elsewhere to have the product made cheaper? Could someone else at a different company come up with the same or a similar process to get the same end result? Most likely, especially if they have an understanding of the material and product. But I sure don’t want to make it that easy for them to do. Pay me to do it, I’m not handing that info over to you for free. As for mentioning it a gazillion times in their email. Yeah, very annoying. But my experiences with people, you can mention “proprietary” in Every.Single.Sentence and you still have that one person who asks if you can share your process with them. Yep, been there and even been asked that by those who you think would understand. And least it was funny making fun of their over-use of the word. And you have to wonder who they hire and how much the person is paid to write those responses. Wow, talk about using a lot of words to not even answer a simple question. I guess they figure if they confuse a person long enough with their fancy speak, the person will forget their initial question.

  26. Mike’s Hard Smashed Apple Ale is not gluten free 🙁 I got the headache and foggy brain the day after where I could not remember what I did 10 minutes ago.

  27. We got some MHL for the Fourth of July, had one a couple days ago, had regrets the next day. The bottles no longer say anything about gluten free crafting on them. So although it tasted nice, I’ll be passing on this product now. Distilled spirits still seem safe for me.

  28. Today I noticed this very fine print on the MHL case that I had never identified before. I have wanted to try this beverage ever since I became aware of my sensitivity therefore I was enthusiastic about the potential of this label’s legitimacy. I coincidentally happened to stumble upon this article, and after finishing a bottle I felt obligated to provide my opinion and reaction.

    I’m sure that I don’t need to mention that every individual case of celiac/gluten-intolerance and the level of severity of their symptoms is subjective. That being said I personally would not recommend consuming this beverage if you believe you have celiac or gluten intolerance. However, I feel compelled to mention the symptoms were substantially less sever in comparison to those I experience when consuming gluten containing products. I’m also sure I don’t need to mention the symptoms as we’ve all had enough of them.

    I became consciously aware of my “sensitivity” approximately three years ago, prior to that I was unfamiliar with the diagnosis and therefore was unsure what to attribute my symptoms to. For the purposes of this post I use the term sensitivity given that my symptoms had become so sever that I felt no need to verify whether or not I was merely a gluten-sensitive or if I had celiac. I knew regardless I had to abstain from consuming gluten.

    P.s. – this website is phenomenal!!!!!

  29. I am newly diagnosed and have had no issues with MHL. I think it comes down to how you feel. The government allows so much into food so even though it may say “GF” certified there is still some gluten in it. I cannot eat organic sausage even if it says GF. I get the symptoms every time so I gave it up. It has to be some spice that is causing the issue. Yeast is not GF unless it is certified. Found that out the hard way…..

  30. Great! I drank three MHLs two days in a row (Saturday and Sunday) and now (Monday) am running to the bathroom… It’s not at all possible that it was “something else” as I am very careful about what I consume. Everything else was absolutely GF!

  31. I’ve been GF for many years. I had Mike’s for the first time yesterday… logged on this morning to verify what my body is telling me: it is absolutely NOT gluten-free! Suffering the effects today, and I haven’t felt this bad in years!!! Who would have thought that lemonade was made from malt?

    I will never drink another one!

    1. Agreed. I have a strong gluten allergy and I’ve been convinced that mike’s hard in any flavor contains gluten. I feel it when I drink it. I suggest taking a gluten ease before drinking them.
      Just my experience.. – Nika

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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